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S&P expects weak tourism to weigh on Dubai economy until late 2022


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S&P expects weak tourism to weigh on Dubai economy until late 2022

TOURISM HUB. A family stands at the seashore in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 13, 2021.

Mohammed Salem/Reuters

S&P Global Ratings sees Dubai's economy expanding by 3.5% in 2021, mainly because of a high COVID-19 vaccination rate, but visitor arrivals will stay relatively low

Dubai is set for a “modest” recovery this year on the back of a high vaccination rate in the United Arab Emirates and limited COVID-19 restrictions, but weak international tourism will drag on the economy until late 2022, S&P Global Ratings said.

The economy of the Middle East trade, finance, and tourism hub shrank 10.9% last year, with the coronavirus-driven drop in tourism contributing to 56% of the overall decline, the ratings agency said in a report on Tuesday, October 19.

“Tourism’s contribution to real GDP (gross domestic product) fell to about 13% in 2020, from 18% in 2019. A further 30% of the 10.9% decline in 2020 came from the wholesale and retail trade sectors,” it said.

S&P expects Dubai’s economy to expand by 3.5% this year, mainly because of a high vaccination rate – with more than 85% of the UAE population having received two doses – and the easing of COVID-19 global restrictions.

The Dubai Expo 2020 world fair, which was delayed by a year because of the pandemic and started this month, is seen providing a weaker boost to the economy than that expected pre-COVID-19, said the agency.

“We forecast visitor arrivals to Dubai will not return to 2019 levels until at least late 2022. However, in our view, the six-month event will improve hotel occupancy and increase footfall in malls, benefiting the retail sector.”

S&P expects Dubai’s real GDP growth to average about 2% between 2022 and 2024. –

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